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Hard drive issues


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#1
anarxaki

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A friend bought a computer a few years ago (picked the parts herself) and used it for a moderate home use. It has two internal HDD, 640GB each. After a few years, the second one stopped working. She kept on using the PC with the remaining disk, till that one stopped working too. She brought it to me to look if there is anything to save.

 

I put the disks in my tower and the Computer Management could see them, but as RAW. I used the WD diagnostic tool to write zeros and managed to format them. Then I put them back in her computer, but it still could not start up. It turned out that both SATA cables were not working properly. I used two spare I had and went on installing Windows (7x64) with no problems, although I noticed that POST some times takes a bit longer to load. So I went on to run some diagnostics. Even though the WD quick test came back green, the Extended test said "too many bad sectors". I used the Windows Check Disk option to fix them. It said "Some problems were fixed" but now the WD quick test fails.

It's obvious that both drives are in a not good state. The easiest solution would be to buy a new one, but she has no spare money and I would like to suggest a buy when I'm 100% sure. So, how can I check the status of the drives and see how much time (if any) they have left?

And, secondly, is there any diagnostic program for the motherboard? I want to be sure that the MB is to be trusted.


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#2
Kemasa

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Writing zeroes and formating wiped out the data on the disks, so the OS would be gone.

 

The quick test does not check everything and you said that it is reporting too many bad sectors, which indicates a problem with the disk. Based on what you said, the drives are toast, but you could try running the extended test on the drives.


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#3
anarxaki

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Yes, I knew I would lose all data, but my friend did not care to save them. She'd format it anyway.

 

If the quick test is failing, so will probably the extended. So, either windows didn't repair a thing, or maybe I need to run a different diagnostic program?

Last but not least, what about the motherboard? Is there any diagnostic program for that?


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#4
Kemasa

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The windows "repair" is based on the filesystem, not the hardware.

 

The diag from the drive manufacturer tests the drive itself at a lower level, which is the first step in determining whether it is working or not. The quick test does not completely test it, but yes, if it fails that it is not likely to be working correctly. The manufacturer's diag program is what is needed to be used to determine if the drive is working correctly or not, which is what it sounds like you used.

 

There could be a diag for the motherboard, but you would have to check with the manfacturer of the motherboard to see if they have one. There are some generic tests from what I recall. Perhaps someone more familiar with that can comment on it.


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#5
anarxaki

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I was under the impression that the repairing of the bad sectors includes sort of telling the computer to not use the bad sectors. So, you are right, if the manufacturer's diagnostic program says it's in a too bad shape, there is no real hope out there.
I'll look around for the MB own diagnostic tool and I'll let you know.

Thanks!


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#6
Kemasa

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There can be bad sectors when the drive is manufactured and some can go bad later, but if there are too many it tends to indicate a problem which is causing it. For example, if a head touches down and damages the disk surface, it can cause further damage due to the head being damaged or from the material from the disk. Generally, bad sectors should not be growing and if they are, it is only a matter of time before the disk can no longer be used.


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#7
anarxaki

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It makes me wonder how these bad sectors occurred. My friend did not move around the HDDs at all, she didn't even use her computer that much to put a strain on them. Of course, they could be faulty when they were made, but both? This is a serious case of bad luck, isn't it?

I can't get out of my mind that I found all three SATA cables to not be working properly. Could these cause the problems? I've also been told that it could be a case of faulty PSU. She never had any of the usual signs, PC shut down for no reason or not starting up, or BSOD, or anything stop working. Just the HDDs. I run some stress tests that would probably make the malfunctioning PSU to show itself. Nothing happened.

 

To cut a long story short, I cannot trust any of those disks for the operating system. So I got her a refurbished HDD for just a fragment of the original price, and I'll be using that one as a system disk and keep the other two for files that it's OK to be lost if they crash. But I'll always be wondering if those SATA cables are to be held responsible.


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#8
Kemasa

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Over time, drives will fail. Some drives are made better than others, but the quality varies over time with each manufacturer.


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